What is a cash buyer? Our sale has stalled because the buyer doesn’t have enough money — what does the term really mean?

Question: We accepted an offer on our home from a woman who the agents said was a cash buyer and could proceed quickly.

That was four months ago and there’s no sign of her exchanging contracts.

The agent now says she can’t proceed until she gets the money from the sale of her house. I am confused as to what a cash buyer actually is, and I just don’t know what to do now.

Answer: The term “cash buyer” describes someone with enough money in the bank to buy outright without the need for mortgage funding, but it is also used to describe someone with a property to sell who, on completion, will have enough money from the proceeds to buy another property.

Your agents should have confirmed the prospective buyer’s ability to proceed by asking her for proof of funding, such as  bank statements or a letter from her bank or accountant confirming she had sufficient available funds to cover your purchase price.

If your agents knew she had somewhere to sell, they should have established how far that sale had progressed and if she could proceed without first selling. 

Ask your solicitor to obtain an update from her solicitor on her sale and her ability to proceed with the purchase of your home.

If the information you receive is unsatisfactory, your only real option is to remarket your property and try to find another buyer. 

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here.

Fiona McNulty is a solicitor specialising in residential property.

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